International Association of Exhibitions & Events Names Individual Award Winners

October 28, 2013

The International Association of Exhibitions and Events has unveiled this year's recipients of the IAEE Awards program that recognizes professionals who have made outstanding contributions to the exhibitions and events industry.

Award winners will be honored at the IAEE Annual Networking Luncheon and Awards Presentation on tap at the Expo! Expo! IAEE's Annual Meeting & Exhibition, Dec.10-12 in Houston.

"Recipients of the annual IAEE Awards personify the hard work and dedication that the exhibitions and events industry demands from each of us," said 2013 IAEE Awards Committee Chair Mary Bender.

She added, "The Awards Committee is very proud of this year's honorees and looks forward to recognizing their achievements at the annual meeting in Houston."

This year's award winners were nominated and then selected by the IAEE awards committee and approved by the IAEE board of directors:

Here are this year’s winners:

The Pinnacle Award (formerly known as the William Hunt Eisenman Award) recognizes an individual who, over the years, has furthered IAEE's objectives of advancing exhibition management through the promotion of education, the dissemination of knowledge and the introduction or development of innovative techniques and who has been dedicated to the perpetuation of the highest ideals, trust and professionalism in this highly specialized field. This year's recipient is Rossi Ralenkotter, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Bureau.

With more than 40 years devoted to the exhibitions and events industry, Ralenkotter is currently responsible for marketing Las Vegas and Southern Nevada as “the world's most desirable destination for leisure and business travel.” Under his leadership, the LVCVA successfully launched "Vegas Stories," best known for its oft-repeated tagline, "What happens here, stays here." It was selected the No. 1 campaign by the voting public and has been inducted into the Madison Avenue Advertising Walk of Fame. The LVCVA owns and operates the Las Vegas Convention Center and Cashman Center.

Ralenkotter is the current chair of the U.S. Travel Association and recently completed his term as chair to the Travel and Tourism Advisory Board for the U.S. Department of Commerce and will retain a seat on the board as chair emeritus, where he leads the Research Taskforce. His work as the chair of the Travel and Tourism Advisory Board led to a national platform for the industry. This platform was the basis for much of President Obama's National Tourism Strategy that was announced and launched in early 2012.

Additionally, he sits on the Nevada Commission on Tourism and serves on the newly established Brand USA marketing advisory council. Ralenkotter is a member of the American Society of Travel Agents, Destination Marketing Association International, the American Society of Association Executives, and the Hotel Sales Marketing Association.

The Distinguished Service Award is presented to an IAEE member in recognition of his or her service rendered to IAEE and to the exhibitions and events industry as a whole. This year's recipient is John Patronski, executive vice president – Industry Development at Global Experience Specialists (GES).

The Merit Award recognizes those whose ideas and/or work have benefited IAEE as an organization in some special way and is generally reserved for those who have stepped forward at the chapter/local level. This year's recipients are Gerry Eng, national sales manager, Georgia World Congress Center; Mel Forehand, CEM, CMP, vice president of Expositions, Texas Restaurant Association; and Mark Sussman, director, Trade Show Sales, Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The Educator of the Year Award honors IAEE members who possess outstanding creativity, a positive attitude and the ability to transfer knowledge through good communication skills and innovative teaching to promote life-long learning to exhibitions and events industry professionals. This year's recipient is Kimberly Hardcastle-Geddes, CEM, president of the Marketing Design Group.

The Outstanding Achievement in Industry Leadership Award recognizes individuals who have made an extraordinary personal or professional commitment that materially contributes to the advancement of the exhibitions and events industry. This year's recipient is Don Vaughn, president of The Augusta Group (retired).

The Outstanding Achievement in Innovation in Business Solutions Award recognizes achievement in the creation of new and innovative business solutions. This year's award recipients are the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority (MCCA) and Exhibition Services & Contractors Association (ESCA) for their collaboration in creating the Worker Identification System (WIS).

The Outstanding Achievement in Marketing & Sales Award recognizes outstanding achievements by show management in marketing and sales activities, such as total event revenue and profit, attendance, exhibit space sales, advertising revenue and sponsorship revenue. Merit is based on achievement of defined objectives, including measurable comparable metrics. This year's winner is Melissa Ooi, executive vice president at Asp, Inc.

The Young Professional of the Year Award honors individuals in the exhibitions and events industry 40 years of age or younger. The award recognizes excellent professional performance by someone who has committed his/her time to advancing the standing of young professionals in our industry. This year's honoree is Rebecca Orens, CEM, senior exhibits coordinator at the Society for Human Resource Management.

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